Local shares finished yesterday in much the same way they spent most of the week - on a limp note, no thanks to mixed performances on Wall Street amid trade fears and political upheaval in Washington.
The Straits Times Index extended its losses for the third straight day, closing down 5.6 points or 0.2 per cent to at 3,512.14. The market's key barometer has spent three out of five days this week in negative territory but still ended up 27 points or 0.8 per cent. About 1.8 billion shares worth $1.6 billion changed hands, with losers outnumbering gainers 248 to 184.
With no fresh catalysts in sight, trading has been listless with traders looking towards next week for leads, chiefly from the United States where an interest rate hike is widely expected.
"The stage certainly looks set for both an interest rate hike and more hawkish shift in economic projections," said IG market strategist Jingyi Pan. "The market will likely be scrutinising Federal Reserve chairman (Jerome) Powell's press conference for items such as the Fed's views on inflation following the mixed set of numbers we have received for the first two months of the year."
There was disappointing February data for Singapore's non-oil domestic exports yesterday. Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin said the broker was reluctant to extrapolate from the weak exports readings for the broader electronics growth recovery as several Asian countries reported much stronger numbers, including China, Vietnam and Korea. He added that Singapore's industrial production for February due on March 26 should provide a fuller picture.
Losses here were led by the three banking stocks with OCBC Bank, DBS Bank and UOB falling between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent.
Oxley Holdings fell 2.5 cents or 4.5 per cent to 53 cents. The property developer said it has inked a placement agreement on 156.8 million new shares at 51 cents a piece - or nearly 9 per cent discount to the stock's volume-weighted average price of 55.9 cents on March 14. The exercise is aimed at raising $78.1 million.
Datapulse Technology, which is caught in a shareholder tussle, closed one cent cent higher to 36 cents. On Thursday, the disk-drive maker released its second-quarter results, which saw it swing to the black from a year ago.
Watch-list firm Nutryfarm International lost 3.5 cents or 11 per cent to 27.5 cents after it resumed trading following a halt on Thursday afternoon. The company said it was buying a 45 per cent stake in a Chinese internet technology firm for 90 million yuan (S$18.7 million).